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Legislating on Deadline

After racing to get legislation to the desk of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), General Assembly leaders may now be running to court.

Democrats jammed through a number of bills Friday so, if they are vetoed, there's still time to try and override the governor before lawmakers leave town April 10.

What the Democrats don't know is, how late was too late. Ehrlich staffers closed and locked their doors Friday at 5 p.m., before a handful of bills that had just been voted through could be delivered. Among them: a measure to reduce power plant emissions and one to cap public university tuition.

Unsure what to do, the Senate clerk slid them under the governor's door. Legislative advisers say the state has no case law on whether that qualifies as delivery, but they are hoping a 1982 case from Alabama will suffice.

Courts there held that, so long as the bill is presented, even if the doors are locked, "there is no requirement that [the governor] actually receive it. From that moment of formal tender, the clock begins to run and he must act."

Matt Mosk

By Phyllis Jordan  |  April 1, 2006; 2:46 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly  
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